Longevity of bone:

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76 kassyopeia30th Sep 2012 09:46:35 AM from terrae nullius

Wait, why don't I just combine the two schemes, instead of trying to settle for one or the other?

Firstly, a gatherer kills the deer and brings home the antler. Secondly, a builder carves the coins. Thirdly, the government mint stains the coins with a special pigment. Alternatively thirdly, the builder from secondly does the staining themselves, but they need to purchase the pigment from the government. The former version gives the government the option to simply confiscate a portion of the money if there's an antler glut. Those coins are then put in storage and circulated little by little once the glut is over, thus avoiding short-term currency fluctuations. In the latter version, this happens almost automatically, because they'll only be producing the pigment at the rate at which it is usually being bought. During the hypothetical glut, the pigment simply sells out, from which point on the gatherers and builders can either store the antler themselves until pigment becomes once again available, or can decide to use the antler to make other stuff.

The only problem with the otherwise very elegant latter version is that people would simply keep making as many high-denomination coins as there is antler available, using the extra pigment they can save by not making any cents at all. Thus, there'd still be inflation, and at the same time the denomination balance gets thrown off. That could be fixed by staining each denomination with a different pigment, though, unless I'm overlooking something.

As an added benefit, we now have three types of coins and three parties involved, so the divvying-up could be very straightforward indeed - one party gets the coronet, one party the cusps, one party the cents. At first glance, though, I'm not sure if there's a way to do that which is fair to everyone involved. Needs a bit more thought.

On the whole, this feels almost perfect, though! cool

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
Have you given thought as to how the pigment is produced? It would fit together even better if the source is easily controlled by the government and naturally limited.
78 kassyopeia1st Oct 2012 12:01:31 AM from terrae nullius

[up] Not really to the former, and yes to the latter. The only thing I managed to come up with so far is pretty uninspired: The government control could rest in the circumstance that the way in which the pigment is made is kept secret and known only to league-level Chief Builders, who pass it on only to their successors upon retirement. With humans, that would be a recipe for disaster ("Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead"), but I could posit that the Altlings' mentality makes it work.

Obviously, a more solid kind of control would be much preferrable, though. And ideally the pigment should be within the ambit of a vocation other than builders or gatherers, to make a counterfeiting operation even harder to arrange. It can't be troopers or dealers (there is no foreign trade), as far as I can see, so that would leave peasants and clerics. Peasants would mean that it comes from an agricultural plant. A tree, ideally, since it'd be virtually impossible to hide one anywhere it isn't supposed to be, and the only place it would be supposed to be would be the "palace gardens".

Clerics would mean some kind of "alchemical" process to turn whatever raw substance is needed into the usable pigment. As I said regarding banks, I don't really want to associate money with religion, but clerics constitute the academia as well as the clergy, so that wouldn't be a hindrance. Again, this would mainly mean that it's a matter of keeping something secret to control it, but there could also be various secondary ingredients and tools involved which have to be acquired from a variety of sources and are only used for alchemy, so that anyone who's not a cleric wouldn't have any way of legally acquiring any of those. That's as far as I've thought, anyway.

===

Updated scheme: Firstly, gatherer kills deer and brings home antler. Secondly, gatherer hires builder to carve the coins. The builder's payment is that they get the remainder (meaning most) of the antler for free, to do with as they please. The gatherer picks up the coins and takes them to the government mint, which applies the controlled pigment. Half the coins are returned to the gatherer, the government keeps the rest. Inflation control solely consists in the government not spending all of the extra income they receive during an antler glut, but instead keeping it in reserve for later. That's almost as elegant as the one-denomination-each approach, which as I suspected doesn't really work out in any permutation.

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
[up]Sounds great! What does the government usually spend its coins on?
80 kassyopeia1st Oct 2012 12:20:17 AM from terrae nullius

Yay! smile

Now that the government has a regular source of income, which wasn't really part of my original plan, I imagine they'd have to pay for everything beyond the essentials, and they're able to pay stipends and wages to direct employees. So, if there's to be a feast, they buy rather than requisition any kind of food that's not part of the ordinary menu from the gatherers and peasants. If something the league can't provide itself needs to be acquired, they can give money to the dealers to buy it with, rather than having to barter directly. If a particularly skilled builder would be best suited for a public works, they can hire them rather than just order them to do it, which seems fairer anyway if this takes a considerable amount of time. Troopers and clerics can now receive a government stipend, as can the leadership Elect themselves. The day-to-day affairs are still run in a collectivist manner, as I imagined above, but they'd now be the only things run in that manner.

Thoughts?

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
I feel that by making the government involved in currency you've added considerably to the complexity of the government and the society. We're getting further away from the proto-civilization it seemed like you originally described. Nothing wrong with that, but make sure you know when to stop. grin

One alternative to the government spending money like modern governments would be the government sacrificing large amounts of money on special occasions. Or simply destroy it publicly as a way of showing off, which some societies did.

How long has the society been in this state? I can see the command economy existing alongside the currency-based economy more readily if one or the other is a recent invention. It seems though, that eventually one might replace the other. It gets harder and harder to reconcile the idea that sometimes people deserve to be paid for their work, other times it's their duty and they shouldn't.

edited 1st Oct '12 12:39:27 AM by Topazan

82 kassyopeia1st Oct 2012 01:00:58 AM from terrae nullius

I had briefly considered destroying rather than storing any excess antler periodically (at the end of each luster, almost certainly), but quickly discarded the though as being too wasteful. If there are historical precedents, though, I may change my mind on that point. Do you happen to remember in the context of which cultures this happened?

The society has been in a mostly stagnant state for more than one "calendar", which is the longest timespan they have a term for, and is equal to 36 lifetimes. The cause of the stagnancy is again their mindset of "things are as they should be, so we want to make sure nothing changes", combined with a complete absence of contact with foreigners which could trigger change in one way (copying them) or another (having to not lost a war against them). China was in a somewhat similar situation for long periods, with somewhat similar results, so even though this is a bit of a derided cliche I think it's viable in this case.

The distinction between collectivist and capitalist branches of the economy is pretty much that between things that are considered necessary and things that are considered unnecessary but pleasant. I think that's sufficiently basic to support such a two-tiered approach.

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
The culture I had in mind were the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. During potlatches the wealthy were known to destroy objects considered valuable.

However, as I read more on the topic it seems like this custom arose in an anomalous situation, so it might not be applicable. If this paper is to be believed, apparently they did have some concept of inflation.

84 kassyopeia2nd Oct 2012 02:28:14 AM from terrae nullius

Okay, I skimmed a bunch of the 'pedia articles related to natural dyes of the biological variety just now, and the two which closely match what I have in mind are the so-called dragon's blood and traditional crimson. Both involve trees, which makes it pretty much impossible to hide away a counterfeiting operation.

The former is appealing mainly because of its name, but a resourceful gatherer could conceivably collect the resin from trees growing in the wild. The latter makes that pretty much impossible, I'd assume, because harvesting the insects is bound to be very labour-intensive.

Of course, I don't have to and am not planning to use either of the two examples directly, but will make up an at least somewhat alien stand-in instead. This is just for guidance. smile

ps: Oh, I settled on the colour red because, for one thing, my deer (just as Earth's) often have red coats*. For another, because it is the colour of blood, to which humans and many other animals have an instinctive reaction of increased alertness, it is often reserved for things that are meant to stand out in some way - which makes it the natural colour of choice for governmental things, it seems to me. Also, purely pragmatically, a dropped coin which is red ought to be easier to spot than one which is yellow or green or blue, on most natural surfaces.

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
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